Theatre review: The Chef Show
Never has it been more important to see art that encourages tolerance and understanding – so Nick Ahad’s new play couldn’t be more timely.
There are few better ways of breaking down perceived barriers and bringing people together than theatre and food, so combining the two, as The Chef Show does, is a stroke of genius. The brainchild of director Stefan Escreet, who commissioned the play after going to a curry night in his village, the production is set in a rural curry house somewhere in the North on a busy Saturday night. Two actors – Rohit Gokani and Kamal Kaan – play a father and son who have differing ideas on how to run their family restaurant, Abdul’s. They also bring vividly and skilfully to life a whole host of other characters – including a couple on their first date, a raucous hen night, a controlling husband and his timid wife and a pair of obnoxious racist drunks. Meanwhile, in the background real-life local chef, Yazi, is creating a delicious-smelling dish.
A couple of times the actors break out of character to chat to Yazi – an important part of the show’s aim to promote understanding of different cultures – and later the audience get to sample her food. While it makes serious and urgent points that speak to the divisive times in which we are currently living, the play is also very funny. Humour, food and empathy – a potent and winning combination.